Mission Statement and Vision Statement

Mission Statement

We Create a Healthy Mediterranean Dining Experience

That Reflects Our Dedication To Excellence

In the Food We Serve and In the People Who Serve It.



Values Statement


How Can This Be Done Better?

  • Quality of Food
  • Customer Service
  • Restaurant Appearance & Atmosphere
  • Honesty, Teamwork & Management Support of our Employees


Vision Statement


Be the Best We Can Be, and Better than Anyone Else in Providing a Healthy Mediterranean Dining Experience!

Create a Business that has an Extraordinary Sustainable Value for the Iskenderian Family

Governance Triangle

Provides a clear definition of roles, Defined and measured responsibilities, Open, honest, and timely communication, Actions that build value, and High level on direction, priorities, and culture.

  • Owners – Clear Vision of the Outcome Desired
    • What outcome do the owners want personally from owning the business and when do they expect to achieve it?
    • What does the business need to become so that it delivers the outcomes the owners want?
  • Board – Serves at the pleasure of the Owners and CEO. Represents the Wishes and Values of the Owners and Supports the CEO by Providing Industry Knowledge and Operational Expertise
    • Committed Members who:
      • Understand and Meet the Owner’s Expectations
      • Create a Process to Evaluate the Business, Management, CEO and Itself
    • Provide Oversight, Collaboration With, and Support of Management.
  • CEO & Management – What is the game, how do we play it, and do we keep score.
    • Creation and implementation of the vision;
      • Where are we going?
      • Why are we going there?
      • How are we going to get there?
      • Who is going to help us get there?
    • The creation and execution of strategic and operational plans.


“The things that got you to where you are today

are not the things that will get you to the future.”

  • Peter Drucker

Extraordinary Sustainable Value




  1. EBITDA performance and gross margin strength
  2. Effective business disciplines
  3. Long-term attractiveness of the markets served
  4. Excellent CEO and management team who create a strong culture
  5. Predictable revenues from products and customer relationships

The Five Challenges to Creating Extraordinary Sustainable Value:

  1. Survival – Faced with increasing internal and external challenges, including people, systems, decision-making, and financial.
  2. Value Trap – Owners inability to increase value, and doesn’t have enough value to sell.
  3. Decision Process – Making decisions in a vacuum, fighting for short-term survival instead of long-term success. No strategic plan.
  4. Alignment/Execution – Owners not aligned on strategy and may not have “one voice” from owners to management.
  5. Exit Plan – failure to align company’s capabilities and position to appeal to targeted investors.

Copyright Zankou Chicken, Inc 2015

How Zankou Became a Household Name


Zankou Chicken has been a pioneering family business in the fast-casual restaurant sector. What has Zankou’s evolution been like in the 50-plus years that it has been around, what do you think you and your family have learned through your spectacular entrepreneurial success?

My grandfather started Zankou from a single store in Beirut, Lebanon in 1962. When I father grew up, he, too, worked in the business and gave it a push. They sold the store in 1981, a year before emigrating to Los Angeles. In the U.S., they initially didn’t know what to do. In 1984, the doors opened to our first store in Los Angeles—on Hollywood and Normandie.

In Lebanon, we only sold chicken. People could buy chicken cooked or raw. Later, my family added garlic sauce to the mix, and then they added Arabic bread. All of that they brought here to America. When we came here we added items such as shawerma, falafel, dolma—marinated beef, fried garbanzo dumplings, grape leaves. We also added hummus, which is a staple in Israel and across the Middle East. Since those days, hummus has also become a staple in America—you can buy it at Vons, and in fact it’s gotten so popular that Pepsi recently bought Sabra, a leading brand of hummus and a available at most supermarkets. We have since also added tabouleh, basmati rice, chicken kabob, lule kabob which is ground beef, and tri-tip steak kabob we make with USDA Choice or higher quality meat. All of that happened because of customer feedback throughout the years.

So, we started very simple back in Lebanon and then steadily expanded our menu in America. During the early days in the U.S. we had to educate the people about the simplest things, such as, what is hummus, what is shawerma—they didn’t know. It was a really eclectic time in L.A. in 1984. There were a lot of starving artists. Hollywood was up and coming. Now, all of that action has moved to the Westside—West Hollywood, Century City, which are more eclectic and vivacious. In fact, our newest store is in West Hollywood—on Sunset and Fairfax. Now we have actors who live here. The lead actor who played Dr. Octopus in Spiderman, Alfred Molina lives in the neighborhood, and many others that are great fans and customers of ours which I won’t name. Just about everyone who lives here is in the movie or music business. Capitol Records is right down the street. Beck wrote a song about Zankou.

The 1980s were a very exciting time because people didn’t know about the food. Now, 30 years later, there’s Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food everywhere. The question for us, How do you expand while retaining the same, small-town family kind of business atmosphere? How do you do everything the right way? Because now, people are educated about food. They know what hummus is, what shawerma is. It’s not about teaching them, which is what it was back then. It’s about doing the best you can and being the first to reach customers.

What have you learned about the American consumer over the years?

Well, I’ve been to Europe, and it’s very different there. You really get inspired when you go to Europe—that’s how Starbucks started. I think consumers are generally the same all over the word. They all want good value, good customer service. In Europe, though, people are not so used to good customer service. If they don’t know who you are in Europe, you get mediocre service. Here in America, people are really used to good customer service, and when they don’t get it, they go and Yelp about it. We treat all our customers equally. We don’t call out order numbers anymore—we use customers’ names.

So, the secret, I think, is, how do you expand while maintaining good customer service. That’s why we don’t franchise—when a business starts to franchise, their concept changes. A business goes from being customer service-centric to something that’s more concerned with selling franchises and real estate. For example, McDonald’s is in the business of franchises and real estate. They are not in the customer service business. They’re very different from us in that respect. We want to expand but we don’t want to lose our reputation for customer service in the process. It’s very difficult to do both.

Almost every single day we get requests for franchises from all over—the Philippines, New York City, Chicago, Texas. In fact, we were approached by some wealthy people in Texas who offered us a very large check for franchising. We said no, and our answer is always going to be no. Because we don’t want to become a behemoth who loses touch with the idea of service quality. We also don’t want to forget where we came from—we started as a small family business that made people happy, while creating a Zankou Chicken culture and fan base. We want to keep our brand in very high esteem. That’s why we’re growing, but slowly.

What has Zankou’s success taught you about yourself?

I come from an artistic kind of background. I do a lot of art—I’m into painting and drawing and photography, which are my hobbies. The restaurant industry is very difficult. It swallows up a lot of people and creates difficulties for them in their personal lives. I don’t want to name names, but there are people in the high echelons of our industry who have fallen into drug use and injured themselves and hurt themselves, ultimately killing themselves. I mean, this business can kill you if you’re not careful. It’s extremely stressful because you have to deal with family, the difficulties of running a restaurant, employees, taxes, landlords, parking problems. It’s like a big juggling act—and you have to be really good juggler, but then you don’t have time for yourself, your health, your self-esteem.

So what I’ve learned is that you have to make time for yourself. You have to explore the other side of you. We all have an artistic side—a left and right side of the brain. But you tend to forget the imaginative side of yourself in the restaurant business. If you ignore that side of yourself, you’re not going to be happy. So I keep myself busy through my artistic projects. When I get too stressed working on our restaurant business, I go to my left side of the brain—the painting, the artwork, the photography.

You have to make time to socialize—meet people, network. You have to set aside time and tell yourself that you’re going to meet three to five new people every day. If you don’t do that on purpose it tends to not happen. The restaurant business is like a black hole. It just sucks you in—all your energy, all your time, if you let it. So you have to consciously decide to make time for yourself—number one. Number two, make time for your artistic side. Number three, socialize and network. And that’s what I’ve learned.

We are living in a time in history when the world of business, especially big business, appears to have lost its genuine sense of connection to humanity and to nature, resulting in a series of global crises of which climate change is perhaps he most serious. How do you think business leaders such as yourself are responding to these challenges and restoring shared human connections and a balance with nature?

As a business owner, you have to strike a balance. You can’t be one-hundred percent pro environment and lose money. For example, bio-degradable materials are too expensive to use right now. Yet we are in the process right now of trying to get bio-degradable containers. That’s because me and my team and family deeply care about the environment. Our restaurant trash is recycled. We all recycle at home. I myself try not to buy too many things and I try not to drive as much as I used to. The only thing I buy a lot of is books—and my fiancé complains about that.

But what’s the right balance? You always have to strike the right balance. The cost of going bio-degradable will be about 10 cents extra per plate and that’s going to pass down to the consumer because our profit margins are already so low. But I don’t think the consumer minds paying 10 cents more for the sake of the environment.

As for shared human connections, Zankou Chicken has always given back to the community. We donate to different schools—in Pasadena, Altadena—a 50-percent donation, which means we match whatever the schools raise in funds. We give back to churches. We throw fundraisers for schools and nonprofit organizations at our restaurants. We donate 20 percent of our receipts to them. Right now, for example, we are working with the sports department of Burbank High School. The only caveat is that the organization we help raise funds for hast to match our goals, ideals, principles and philosophy. If a group is too radical or ideological, we don’t get involved because we don’t want to get too political.

So if you’re reading this and want us to help your organization, let us know. Come into one of our restaurants and talk to one of our friendly managers and we’ll see what we can do to help.

Okay, so you’re a thinking person who likes to read. How do you put your knowledge into action, and why do you think knowledge gained from introspection is an important part of business leadership?

I have a bachelors degree in business administration, a masters in business leadership and a certificate in business marketing from UCLA. But that alone does not help you in this business. What helps you is working hard and your imagination. For example, I get inspired by things you can’t imagine. I get inspired by graphic novels, magazines and journals such as IDN, which is a publication for designers. So I get inspired by all these sources, which help me design our menu. For example, I recently noticed something about our old menu. It’s clean and it looks good but it doesn’t really make you hungry. When you look at a menu on paper, it should make you hungry—even if you just ate.

Where does such inspiration come from? It doesn’t come from your school. You have to have an appetite to always do better. What’s called CAN-I: Constant and Never-Ending Improvement. I think the writer and motivational speaker Tony Robbins came up with that. So we’re always improving our food, service, menu, signage, the way our locations look. For example, our West Hollywood location looks completely different from the one in Pasadena, which we built 20 years ago. So that’s our philosophy—always improving what we do.

How do you and the key members of your team define Zankou Chicken’s success? What does success mean to your managers and employees—and how do their ideas of success differ from yours?

There’s a difference between leadership, management and employees. We treat our employees, whom we call associates, like family members. We treat them as best as we can. We pay them better than other fast-casual restaurants and give them opportunities to grow. We always want employees who smile naturally and have a good personality. That’s because personality cannot be taught. If someone walks in and they want a job and they’re not smiling or they’re bitter you cannot change that. As long people are intrinsically positive, they’re likely to make good employees. Our hope is to make them even better by teaching them everything we know.

Now, what management does is implement what the leadership has decided to do. Managers are like car mechanics who make sure the car is running smoothly—that the oil is right, the temperature’s right. A restaurant manager’s job is, number one, food quality; number two, customer service; and number three, making sure we take good care of our employees, the timing—clock in, clock out, paying them in the correct manner. So we try to get people who are really good at that—at managing.

And then you come to the leadership, which is us, the owners. Our philosophy is to give the customer the best dining experience possible—to make the experience about food and nourishment. We also try to make ourselves always better. I’m always learning, always taking classes, and my brothers are always doing that, too. We’re taking cooking classes, educational classes, finance classes—we’re always pushing ourselves. So the leadership in a restaurant has to always push themselves. The managers, employees and customers can’t do that for you. You have to do it yourself.

What does business success mean to you and your family members?

Right now, from the point of view of the company, we really want to grow. Success for us is this: To grow and be true to our vision of being customer-centric and good to our employees. We don’t want to dilute the quality that people expect from Zankou Chicken for more than 50 years now—it will be 53 years in 2015. So you can imagine, thousands upon thousands of people—probably millions by now—rely on us, trust us and do word-of-mouth advertising for us. We can’t let them down. So if we can grow exponentially—have 100 stores in the next 10 years, which is what we want to do—and retain our vision, that’s success to the team.

Personally, I’m changing too. I used to party a lot, I went through a difficult divorce in 2007, but I’m getting married again this year [2004] and taking more time for my family and for God. I really want to teach a class at UCLA Extension or one of the community colleges.

So success to me is doing what you love and making some money while doing it. That way it doesn’t feel like work. You’re reaching out to people and helping them, making them feel good about themselves. In the end, we don’t take anything with us when we die. What we leave behind is our legacy, and that’s another reason why I want to teach—I want to remembered for what I taught people.

What do your managers consider as the company’s success?

Our managers consider themselves as family. They watch out for the restaurant as if it’s their own restaurant. For them success is two things: One, Being on top of problems and solving them. Two, success for them is growth—the company’s growth. If they see the company has the potential to grow and they communicate that to us and help us make that happen, that’s success for them. Managers want to make more money, too, but how can we pay them more if we’re not growing and making more money overall as a company?

How can Zankou Chicken differentiate itself in a highly competitive industry?

We’re in the fast-casual sector, which includes companies such as California Pizza Kitchen and Chipotle. So, first of all, how do we differentiate ourselves from the fast food sector? One measure is the dollar rate: For McDonald’s and Burger King an average check might be #3 to $4. For us, the check average is $17 to $20. We offer a higher quality, higher class of food. So how do we differentiate ourselves in the fast-casual sector? The truth is that right now there is no one really like us. There’s no one in the Middle Eastern/Mediterranean fast-casual category that really wants to grow like we want to grow.

Speaking for myself—I can’t speak for the whole team because everyone is a little bit different—I want to grow the fastest so that we can be the first to market. Being the fist to market is a huge benefit in any category. To be the first in Chicago, the first in New York—we really want to reach all these places. We want to open in Las Vegas. We want to open all over Southern California. If we work together as a team to be the first, it’s possible to have 1,200 Zankou Chickens in the Unites States alone—there’s that much room. But it’s all in us—how many stores can we open in a lifetime. We’re the third generation of Zankou Chicken and we’d love to be the one that takes the business to the next level and makes it national. And then the next generation or the one after that may want to be the one who takes it international.

So, that’s about taking things to the next level. How do we differentiate ourselves from any other competitor, real or potential? By treating each customer as special—as if he or she were the only customer. By calling customers by their names. By making sure that we ingrain that level of service whereby we treat each customer as unique and extremely valuable into each and every employee. And if customers complain, we have to reach out to them and make it up to them. Tell them, Hey, come back, your next meal is on us—we’re sorry we messed up; we serve thousands of customers every single day, so of course we’re going to make mistakes. We have to develop some kind of system whereby we do that routinely—tell managers to follow up on complaints on Yelp, City Serach, Zagat and Trip Advisor.

From the point of view of your business model and the dining experience, what is it that Zankou Chicken offers to potential customers that a company such as Chick Filet does not?

We are in our own category. We do Mediterranean food. We invented garlic sauce and chicken. People copy us and that’s another reason why we want to differentiate ourselves. Are there other places that sell shawerma? Yes there are. Other places that sell falafel? Yes. We want to be the freshest, tastiest, fastest, most delicious and reliable. That doesn’t mean we want to be the cheapest, because that lowers your food quality. We have USDA meat and hormone-free, antibotics-free chicken. We can’t call ourselves cheap—we can’t even say we’re inexpensive. But we can say that we have the best quality and that we offer the best value.

How are we the best value? You can get a kebab plate at Zankou Chicken for under $15. If you go to any sit-down restaurant it will cost you $20 easily for the same dish. And it’s the same quality if not lower quality of food. What’s the tradeoff? You’re saving $3 to $5 every time you eat with us, and you’re getting as good food quality if not better than all of these sit-down reataurants.

How do you ensure that employees resolve customers’ problems on the spot?

The team differs a little bit on this, but I would give employees discretion to solve a problem on the spot if takes under $20 to solve it. So what does that mean? A customer wants more bread? Give it to him. A customer wants extra garlic sauce? Give it to them. We get an order wrong. The customer ordered kebabs—a $13 plate—we gave him something else. Give him a new plate, plus extra bread and a free drink. Keep the customer happy. Why? Because that $13 or $14 doesn’t matter—a customer’s lifetime value is something like $1,200 a year. That is, if a customer eats at our restaurant a couple of times or three times a week, he spends around $1,200 in our restaurants every year. And if you crib about $13, you risk losing all that money. That’s why it’s important to give employees discretion about how to solve problems on the spot, especially in light of the fact that the owner cannot always be around to solve problems. But you should set a cap—personally, I think, for us, $20 is reasonable.

Now, imagine if somebody ordered a catering menu worth $1,500, and we mess it up. What are you going to do—give him another $1,500 order for free? No, we can’t afford that. But you can give the customer the part of the order you messed up for free. Let’s say, the customer ordered a tray of beef but you gave them chicken. You can give them that free, which would still work out to be in the $20 or $30 range.

What were the formative influences in your life that shaped your views about customer service?

I have learned certain things over the years, and one of them is to focus on your best customers. There’s a saying that 20 percent of your customers are 80 percent of the value to your business. It’s called the 80-20 rule. I think that in the restaurant business it’s not 80-20 but more like 99-1. That is, 99 percent of your customers are awesome. But you always have 1 or 2 percent who are always complaining. So you have to fire the worst 1 or 2 percent of such customers. They are the ones who destroy your employees’ morale. They’re the ones who don’t even bring you any money because every time they have a problem they slow down the service for everyone else.

What are some of the major challenges you face as a business and how are you planning to overcome them?

The number one challenge right now is money because money is of course the fuel that funds businesses. We’re fortunate enough to be in the United States, where we have the Small Business Administration and angel investors. So, we want to grow by teaming up with the right people at the right time. We’re formulating a plan on exactly how to do that. We don’t have the details yet, but it’s kind of an issue of leverage. You need leverage to grow. And what is a lever? It’s usually a device—a rope or a pole or see-saw with which a single person, weighing say, 200 pounds, can lift 2,000 pounds on his own, which would be impossible to otherwise even budge. And that’s where the banks come in, the Small Business Administration and all these good people come in.

The number two challenge is logistics. How do you implement your business plan—presuming you have all the funding in place? To grow, you need more people. But how do you get the right team to grow—how do you hire the right people? And by right people I mean managers, employees, chefs, cooks, cashiers, constructions contractors. And you need the right location—how do you find the right location? Well, you need location scouts who specialize in finding business locations. These are people who help big companies such as Starbucks find the right locations. That’s all they do.

You have to be very wise when it comes to picing a location. Financing is not the biggest issue. Compared to location, it’s easy, because if you open a business in the wrong location it’s a complete disaster. No matter how good your food is, the business is not going to work.

If Zankou grows from eight to 100 restaurants, would it still be considered a small business?

I think so, although we would be on the border between small businesses and bigger ones. I know that if we had 500 restaurants we won’t be considered a small business. But just because you’re not a small business anymore doesn’t mean you can’t stay true to those principles that make small business feel like a small business—treating every customer as an individual, making sure food quality is supreme. Zankou, for example, consistently gets four or more starts on Yelp—we’re proud of that and we work hard for that.

Which raises the question, Do we always want to stay a small business? I think we want to grow to a point where we’re not a small business anymore and are considered a sizeable competitor in the fast-casual food industry. Personally, I would love to be the number one seller of chicken in the United States. But at the same time I don’t want to sacrifice customer service. I don’t want to sacrifice our core principles of maintaining a healthy relationship with our employees and with each other, and growing with the fact that we want to nourish people; add value to their lives, be good to the environment, help schools; do fundraisers for the community. We want to always be there for our customers in as many ways as we can.

What kind of changes do you foresee as you plan for growth? Do you see your business replicating the same eight restaurants into a hundred?

That’s an interesting question. Let me see if I can answer it in light of what we have already done as we went from one store in the 1980s to eight stores currently. For our restaurant in Burbank, we spent more than $1 million on the design, construction and interiors. That restaurant has become a kind of symbol of Zankou Chicken. It has a beautiful dome that is hand-painted on the inside. There is a splendid replica of an olive tree in the middle of the restaurant. The walls have hand-layered tiles. It’s a delicately and beautifully built restaurant because we really took our time with it—we spent more than a year on it.

But we cannot spend more than $1 million on every location. That’s impossible. Our concept is not like the Granville Café or the Cheesecake Factory, which spends over a million on each location. We’re not a sit-down restaurant like the Cheesecake Factory. We don’t sell alcohol. I’m sure that the average check at Cheesecake Factory for an average family is $60 or $70. Our average check is $17.

So we need to find a fresh concept in terms of design for our new stores. But that design has to be true to our core element, which is fresh Mediterranean food. And it has to convey that message, which is fresh food, in a clean and elegant ambience that is very affordable to customers.

Why don’t you serve alcohol?

My dad never wanted alcohol. And alcohol doesn’t go with our core philosophy of being a family owned restaurant for families. Is alcohol healthy? No. Our core message is sustenance and health.

But isn’t wine an integral part of the Mediterranean diet?

Yes, part of the Mediterranean diet is wine—but don’t forget that it is good wine. And that good wine is usually complimented by dishes such as lasagna or spaghetti that are hand-made and very well made. We’re not in that business. We’re more of a fast-casual, eat-and-go place. Sixty five to 70 percent of our orders are to-go. If we can do what we’re doing and do it better, we’re much more likely to succeed.

If we need to do anything differently it would be to start delivering food. I don’t know how exactly we’re going to do that, but customers ask us all the time to deliver. Traffic is really bad in L.A.—and customers don’t want to drive to get their food. And what’s the number one rule of marketing? It is to always listen to your customers. If the reader takes nothing else from this interview, they should take this: Always listen to your customer. And going back to the original question, right now our customers don’t request alcohol.

7 Reasons to Write a Book

” If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

Vincent Van Gogh



Every author has their own set of reasons why they would want to write a book.


I am sure everyone’s story, reasons, and purposes are completely their own and would probably vary dramatically.


Here are mine.


1) Immortality. I often think of what I will leave behind after death, and the true answer often haunts me: not much. It’s a sad fate when someone lives a life and doesn’t leave much of a legacy behind. Besides having children and grandchildren, which is probably the most meaningful legacy of all, the next best thing that often comes to mind is writing a book.

In many ways writing a book is the culmination of years of experience from both educational and experimental learning. The book should have school-smart wisdom as well as “street-smart” anecdotes, stories, and inspirations for the reader.


Above all, I would want the book to tell my story, inspire the reader, and provide a certain set of skills and knowledge that has been put together like no one has ever done before. It should be unique and useful. I often think to myself that leaving behind books as well as children and grandchildren would give me permission to die a peaceful death, knowing I have left behind a decent legacy. I would want my book to help people long after I’m gone, and this goes for the non-fiction books as well as any fiction books that may follow.


2) Giving back. I can’t state in words how important and helpful other books have been to me in my life. There is no way of saying it other than this: Books have shaped my life. From the formal education that has allowed us to do so much in business and communication, to the photography books that taught me how to take better pictures which I use routinely in social media and my personal life, to the tomes that have taught me better communication and networking skills. Almost everything I have in my life in terms of pure knowledge, I owe to the authors that came before me.

Books have helped me learn many skills, taught me to speak better, write better, network better, communicate better, and helped me get out of my shell during a difficult divorce. The only way I can repay the people that came before me is to do the best I can for the people that will come after me. And thus the cycle of learning  continues.


3) Writer’s classes and writer’s fairs. It’s no secret I am not a very good writer. I have taken many classes over the last 3 years at UCLA Extension’s Writer’s Program. It was there I was introduced to so many other creative writers and heard their stories.


I will never forget these wonderful classes. For most of us it was a combination of therapy, learning, personal growth, and the experience of stretching our writing talent. I can honestly say without these writing classes my book would have not been possible at all. It opened so many doors for me and made me a better writer. UCLA helped me a lot because

a) we helped each other by listening to each others’ stories and gave feedback on how to make them better

b) provided emotional support

c) heard each other out and provided constant positive and negative reinforcement to push ourselves to get published

d) the tips and talents we learned about which we did not have before

e) the wonderful, positive atmosphere UCLA’s beautiful campus provided for years of persistent inspiration provided for an awesome lift, particularly when times were tough and I was totally uninspired to wrote.

f) It was there I met the wonderful author Allison Singh Lee and met her husband, who ultimately became my coauthor , Ajay.

g) was introduced to the great Los Angeles Times Writers’ Fair, which has since moved to USC’s campus. This was where I was further inspired, met fellow artists and writers, and where my vision for my book was solidified.

While we were there the author of The Fault In Our Stars, John Green made an appearance. Now I had never heard of his book or the movie, since I am not a huge fan of fiction or novels. But seeing the mile long line that had formed that day by his fans was truly awe-inspiring. There were tons of teenagers and their families, and they did not hesitate to wait up to 2 hours for a chance at a signature and photo opportunity.


It was great because authors don’t often get much attention, especially not as much as the actors that portray these amazing characters authors dream up with their imagination. But on this day, at the Los Angeles Times Writer’s Fair, the writers had become the main stars and superheroes of the day. The classes we took and these fairs were, for me at least, my own adult version of Disneyland. I was so happy just to be there, meet these awesome people, and be in that moment. I went for 2 entire days and did not waste a single moment, meeting comic book authors, editors, publishers, and other artists.


One guy was there selling these amazing cards he hand-made that opened up! It was so amazing and exciting and I highly recommend it to every up and coming author or wannabee author like me. I imagine myself taking writing classes and going to writer’s fairs for life, because we never get good enough as authors and we know we can become better. There is so much to learn!


4) To provide a platform for my future speaking career. I worked hard on my writing because writing doesn’t come naturally to me. Speaking and meeting people comes much more naturally to me. I am looking forward to speaking publicly at many events, paid and unpaid, in order to become a better speaker. Nothing will open up doors for my speaking career more for me than to become a best-selling author. Like it or not, this is the key for such a career in today’s market.


5) Meeting people and making new friends from the readers and the fans. My hope and goal is that the book opens up an entirely new world of readers and fans of the brand, of learning and growth, and I am very excited to meet like-minded people. The prospect of going to a book signing, taking pictures, and meeting cool new people truly excites me. It excites me more than, say, winning a lot of money in Vegas would. I guess it excites me more because it’s something I have dreamed about for over a decade, every time I walk into a Barnes and Noble. I visit a book store almost every single day, and when I walk into one my thought is almost always that I wish to see my own book on one of the shelves. It’s been a life-long dream I intend to turn into reality, one step at a time.


6) Because I am forgetting things. This may sound funny, but I feel like my memory is not that great, and one way I can preserve every good thing I have ever learned is through a book.

I am not only including my craziest moments in life and my very best memories, but also some of the most difficult lessons I have learned and toughest moments.  I am often finding myself already looking back at these blog posts for things I need.


I always told myself I want my book to be so good, so useful that I would myself use it as a point of reference. Imagine if it has so much useful information that people inside my own organization would use it as a point of reference, much like we do for the menus and catering menus I created. That would be awesome! There is nothing like having a book with the very best information I could have ever come up with for others in the field of restaurant management and marketing, and using it for myself almost every week! That would prove that it’s a useful resource and also that it will sell well on the book-stands. If I include every relevant piece of information I posses in my book I don’t have to worry about forgetting any of it because if I do, i can easily look it up.


7) To make an impact and have a voice. It is often said that in today’s society, only celebrities are being heard. This is somewhat true. If you are not very well known and you don’t have a decent size following on your Twitter and Facebook pages, or on the video channels such as YouTube and Vine, you really don’t have much of a following at all.

And if you don’t have a “following” then you also don’t have a voice. You’re just like those other people commenting on Facebook. Nobody cares about your stupid opinion. This is not a good place to be. A true leader has a following, and only then does what you say and what you think matter at all. I will include some things in the book that will hopefully make a dent in the universe and hopefully make California (and many other states) become a little more business friendly. You can make a difference politically if you have some power, and unfortunately the inverse of this is also true: without the platform a best selling author status gives you it’s hard to make any difference at all.


“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.”  Steven Wright



Sample Copyright Agreement for Web Site Development

Here is an example of a copyright release contract for book publishing, art materials, blog posts, online social media marketing, logo creation, and all other promotion- related materials for your book. Different persons, artists, teams, editors, and companies may have to help with and go through your writing work until it’s time to get published.

Just like a rough diamond, all of these people and processes are necessary in order to get a fully functioning work of literary fiction or (as in my case) non-fiction. Simply remember to get all aspects, people and companies alike, to sign a release form such as this one so that you would own all of your material. This won’t be necessary for a publisher, but I will post some tips on negotiating with publishers based on the expert advice I have heard from the very best and highest selling authors in our industry.

I had to pay a shiny penny for this advice; but I am now proving it free for all readers of my blog.

Here is the sample copyright agreement:

This is an agreement between Dikran Iskenderian and ______________________________________

In exchange for monetary compensation and for the full payment of ________________ (total payment made thus far)

_______________________________, agrees to release and grant all art work and website development work over to Mr. Dikran Iskenderian. Mr Iskenderian will trademark “The Restaurant Marketing Expert “, as well as the tag line, “Inspired Learning Through Cohesive Education.” All of the logos and art work as deemed necessary for future book deals and workbook creation shall be the sole ownership and responsibility of Mr. Dikran Iskenderian.

Mr. Iskenderian shall obtain trademarks on the above mentioned terms and phrases, as well as on the “up pointing arrow” he designed and incorporated for this web site. Even though ____________________________ has helped in the design and implementation of these ideas, Mr. Dikran Iskenderian shall hereby be the sole owner of all original art work and commissioned photography used on the web site, except for stock photos which are deemed copyright-free.  All images and art will be used for future books, workbooks, and seminars without any further compensation being paid.
Mr Iskenderian will use web site material for education purposes and for his two Books which will be copyright Dikran Iskenderian , a workbook, a PowerPoint presentation , and other promotional materials such as mugs, pens, notebooks, mouse pads, and any or all other promotional materials, including possible other books or collaborations with other authors for their platform.

All intellectual property and related art materials will be owned by Dikran Iskenderian and used in perpetuity to further his brand. The web site is also open to future upgrades.

Date _________________________________________________

Signed and agreed upon in the city of Los Angeles, Ca

Mr Dikran Iskenderian _________________________________(print) __________________________________________Sign

Design Agent Print _____________________________________________________________________________________Sign

How Yelp’s ‘Elite Squad’ Profits From Social Media in a Business World


Social media allows anybody and everybody to promote themselves these days. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a whole host of social media strategies that are especially helpful to those who know how to work them. In the world of social media that impacts businesses, however, one platform stands out—Yelp. The paradox of this San Francisco-based social media company’s success is that it’s not known for its utility to businesses per se. Rather, Yelp caters primarily to the end-users of businesses—those who write reviews about businesses ranging from restaurants to auto mechanics. If anything, Yelp has an adversarial relationship with the vast majority of businesses that Yelp reviewers write about.

Among Yelp reviewers, there’s a category known as the Yelp “Elite Squad.” These are reviewers who have reached a certain stage in their critiques of businesses that makes them special to Yelp—and to other reviewers. In short, Yelp Elite are a pampered lot. They get invited to special events—offline gatherings where they bond with each other over food, drinks, music or art. The parties are organized by Yelp community managers, almost all of whom are recruited from the ranks of the Elite Squad and who encourage reviewers by commenting on their reviews in message-board discussions. Yelp’s “meet” strategy is a rather brilliant mix of social media and amateur business “journalism.”

Hollywood resident Sondra Barker has been a Yelp reviewer for about half a dozen years and a member of Yelp’s Elite Squad since 2013. With 137 reviews and 234 “friends” to her credit as of November 21, 2014, Barker knows a thing or two about what it takes to reach the top echelons of Yelp’s membership. In this wide-ranging interview, Barker talks about her experience writing reviews for Yelp and discusses the social media platform from the point of view of both its end-users and the businesses that are an integral part of the mix. Excerpts:

What do you do besides being a Yelp Elite?

I am a medical assistant and a personal trainer and Pilates instructor.

What’s your education like—your school or degree?

I have a degree in Women’s Studies and sociology from the University of Hawaii.

How did you get into Yelp—and do you remember your first review?

I do not remember my first review, but I started writing reviews because I checked reviews. If I go some place or if I’m looking for a place to go to I always go to Yelp for a reference. I started using Yelp when I moved to Los Angeles from Hawaii. Los Angeles has so many restaurants and businesses. What if you’re looking for an honest car mechanic?

So you started out reading Yelp reviews and then began writing them?

Yes, I think most people start out reading them. I like to write and I’m opinionated, especially when it comes to food. It’s wholly natural for me to write food reviews—it’s my personality, especially in Los Angeles. I take picture of my food and list everything that I ate, and what I thought of everything. And I try to be very honest.

At what point did you start getting heavily into writing reviews for Yelp?

About three or four years ago I started writing more in-depth reviews and I started taking pictures of all the little snacks and foods that I got. Then I started creating little lists—I have dogs, I love dogs. Yelp allows you to create these lists of, say, places you can take dogs or a list of great places for happy hours or places to go for brunch. Or the bottomless mimosa list.

Very interesting. So it kind of starts by being organized and following other people’s lists, such as the best Italian restaurants in New York.

Yes, I think there’s a search option where you can just kind of search people’s lists and people can add you as friends and you can check out their lists.

How many reviews do you have under your belt?

Over a hundred.

What are some of your favorite places you couldn’t wait to Yelp about?

One place I really love is Bestia in downtown L.A. I don’t know if it’s a hundred percent my favorite restaurant but I gave them a very good review. It’s in a very weird, obscure area. I went there on a date and I was almost scared. I said to myself, Oh, my God, where is this person taking me?

So you didn’t know about this place from Yelp—but you couldn’t wait to put it on Yelp?

Yes, I was just very excited to be there. I thought it was such a little hidden gem. All the food was so creative and interesting and delicious.

Do you think that’s why people love to Yelp? Because sometimes they find a hidden gem, like you’re talking about, and they want their friends and everyone else to know about it?

Sure, that’s definitely one reason. If people find something really cool and amazing they want to let others know—they want to give [the businesses] credit.

What was the worst experience you had at a restaurant you Yelped about? Have you given anyone a one star?

I like to be very fair. I don’t like giving anyone a one star. Every time I go to a new place I hope it’s going to be great and that I can give them a five-star review. I’ve even gone to places where the experience was not the best—they probably screwed up my order three times, but they were so nice and accommodating about it and really tried to remedy the problem that I ended up giving these places a five-star review. These are the kind of places where, for example, while everyone had gotten their food and they’re fixing my problem, they bring me a super salad and are very apologetic and super nice. So, to me, that’s an extra star.

Can you tell us about a place that you gave a one star?

Sure. I love brunch—it’s my absolute favorite. I went with a friend—kind of like a date—to this place off Sunset called Eveleigh. I picked it because it looked really cute and trendy. It had a patio that was kind of like a bar, with cool lighting. But from the moment I got there I was so disappointed. The hostess was so rude. She had this really arrogant attitude. I believe I had made reservations, but she was very snippy. The hostess if the first impression of a restaurant. Hostesses should be hired based solely on their personality. You can train people to do just about anything—maybe they’re not going to be perfect—but if they don’t have the personality for certain jobs they’re not going to do it well. A hostess should be someone who is cheerful and has a good attitude. Don’t hire a hostess because you think she’s pretty and very L.A. I feel like restaurant owners neglect the position of the hostess because it’s someone who assigns the seating. But a hostess is the very first impression of a restaurant, which is very important.

Anyway, we sat down and the sun was blaring in my face. It was not necessarily their fault, but it was kind of uncomfortable. The biggest disappointment was that this place wasn’t cheap. I got a hash with meat and eggs and my date got the big breakfast, which was eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage, the works. It was $20. And it was awful. Everything looked burned. So we told the waitress, especially about the hash browns, and she put them on a separate plate, brought them to the kitchen, brought them back, and said, Ya, the chef said they’re supposed to be this way. And I was like, You’ve got to be kidding me.

I get the whole sunny side up thing, but my egg was very raw. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. At the end of my review I said next time I’m just going to go to iHop. Because they get it right every time. And if I return my hash browns, they will take them away, put them in the garbage and make me new ones the way I ask for them.

Have you met anybody from Yelp in real life—have you made any friends?

Well, we go to special events all the time. Every month, Yelp puts out a calendar of events. They’re only for Yelp Elites and to some of them you’re allowed to bring a guest. I always try to bring my friend because he’s so nice—he takes me out to eat all the time. We all sit together at these events like a community and chit-chat.

Some events are specially for Yelp Elite in the areas where they work. Like a lunch break—you get to go and try out a restaurant near your work. So I’ve done the Backyard at the W [in Westwood]. It was very nice—in the middle of the day. I brought a guest and we had a family style meal.

In fact, the reason I started working at a medical spa in Beverly Hills was that we had a Yelp event there. That was the first time I went there. These events are very nice, very well done. We had one recently at Fogo de Chow, a Brazilian restaurant on Beverly and La Cianega. We had a whole back room and there were 30 or 40 of us. You could get wine or a specialty cocktail. The meat they served us was great, but I’ve had better food at other Brazilian restaurants. So, even though it was a Yelp Elite event, I’m not required to leave a five-star review. I can still give my honest opinion. And when you go to a Yelp Elite event, you can review the event itself—there’s a separate page on the Yelp website for that. And they tell you not to review the restaurant until you go back there.

So is that what you did—you went back to Fogo de Chow?

I probably, actually, wouldn’t go back. It’s very pricey. And while the meat was very good, the sides and the buffett weren’t. I feel like when you pay so much you can’t slack on one thing.

Are these events good for networking with other professionals?

It’s really just Yelpers who love to review. It’s not really for networking. But there also are events where you don’t have to be a Yelp Elite to go to.

How does one become a Yelp Elite?

You can either be nominated or you can just nominate yourself. And then someone will review your page and get back to you. They might say, We liked your page but you need to have a few more reviews. Or that you need more detail in your reviews.

I actually nominated my girlfriend Courtney L. because I thought it would be so much fun to be together.

Is she a Yelp Elite?

I don’t believe so. Her reviews are very short. Kind of like two sentences. It’s not enough. She also didn’t have enough reviews. The Yelp community manager told her to write a little bit more.

Why did you nominate Courtney even though you knew her reviews were not up to the mark?

Because she is a very active member of the community. She goes out a lot—she goes out to a lot of restaurants. She’s a lawyer. She and I go to charity events. She would make a good Elite. She just needs to add some more depth to her reviews. I feel like there should be more diversity to Yelp Elites—ethnic diversity and people with different types of jobs who are active in the community. But you still have to write reviews well.

Is there some sort of target for reviews before a reviewer become an Elite? Is 100 reviews enough?

No. I think when I became an Elite I maybe had 60 reviews.

Psychologically speaking, what do you think makes people want to write Yelp reviews? Some reviewers who are not even Elite have a thousand reviews. Writing reviews seems to become a journey—an adventure—in which reviewers are competing with each other to get more reviews and check out new places. What do you think makes people do that?

I think there are different reasons why different people do it. Some people get competitive but there are other people who are big foodies who love to try different types of restaurants. My big dream—my secret job—is to be a food critic. So what better way to be a food critic than to write my own reviews each time I go to a new restaurant? Some people want to give their opinion about a place just to make others aware.

What would your advice be for restaurant owners who want to get more positive reviews and a higher score for their restaurants on Yelp?

I think you want to have good food, good service and cleanliness. Those are three things people notice right off the bat. The situations in which restaurant owners mess up is when they do have a nice restaurant and really good food but the service is bad or they’re not properly accommodative when something goes wrong on a n order. Getting someone a soup or a salad while fixing their order is not expensive to do, and can make the difference between getting three stars and five stars. Even if you mess up and you accommodate it, people will overlook the mistake.

What should restaurant owners do when they do mess up and see a three-star review. Should they try to contact the reviewer and invite him back in the hope that he will give a five-star review the next time?

Absolutely. And the best thing to do is to prevent getting a three-star review in the first place.

Have you ever changed your review from a three star to a five star?

Yes, but I don’t believe it was because the owners had to ask me to do anything. The place I mentioned earlier, which I gave a three-star review—I went there again and the same thing happened with my order. They messed it up. I had given them a four-star review the last time around—because they were so nice. But this time they were so nice again that I changed my review from a four star to a five star.

The really annoying thing is that there are many places that will tell you to come back—so that they can make it better for you—but they actually argue with you. They tell you that you’re crazy. There’s one place I went to, a little pasta place at the Beverly Center on La Cianega in 2012. It was called Your Pasta Story and it was awful. The food tasted like cat food. I had ordered a caprese salad and salmon pasta with lemon sauce. It was really bad. The bread was awful, too. Even my boyfriend at the time wouldn’t eat the food. And I said to myself, if he’s not eating it, there’s a problem.

So I wrote an in-depth review and gave them one star, because this place was not really cheap, the atmosphere was weird and the food was just not good. And this woman, the owner, wrote back, and told me that there was a problem with my palette—maybe I just don’t have a developed palette. She said their salmon dish was one of their most popular dishes. “I wish it could have been to your taste,” she said. “But our fresh products cannot satisfy every palette.” And this is what she said about her awful bread: “We use the recipe of a very famous bakery in Paris to make our bread. Sorry we did not have French toast to please you.” That was like, Sorry, we didn’t have Wonderbread.

I thought that was insane. I couldn’t believe that she insulted me like that. Other Yelpers read these replies. She was this crazy person who didn’t know how to accommodate her customers.

Do you have the ability to reply to an owner’s reply on Yelp?

What I did was that I edited my original review and put a section that read, In reply to the owner’s comments, the pasta came out barely cooked. I am used to home-cooked pasta, and this was not even close. I don’t want toast. I want fresh, baked bread that isn’t doughy and barely cooked in the center and doesn’t have a bitter taste. And finally, I can make a better caprese salad at home than what you served, using large-sized tomatoes, fresh slices of mozzarella and a nice balsamic reduction. Using little cherry tomatoes is cheap, does not add any flavor and is lackluster to say the least. If you want to believe your food is amazing, good luck—but it is not. The salmon tasted like cat food—it was chewy, like it was boiled and the sauce was very watery, with no flavor. And last, please don’t insinuate that I don’t like or know fresh food. I know great fresh food and have been cooking all my life. You need a little visit from Gordon Ramsey and then maybe you’ll believe that your food is not good.

Did you go back there?

No, no way, never.

Would you have gone back there if she had been very nice and accommodating?


I had a bad experience with a customer once. She asked for the nutrition facts of our food at Zankou, and I told her that we didn’t have them but that as soon as we did I would put the information on our website and let her know. But she accused me of having the nutrition facts but not disclosing them. So, what should a restaurant owner do in such a situation?

I would have explained to the customer that by the law when you have a certain number of restaurants you have to have your nutritional information.

Yes, I think it’s 20 restaurants …

I’ve actually written a negative review about a place that wasn’t clear about what was in their food. It was a place that claimed to be healthy but then they had ice cream in their green tea. I felt very deceived. I wrote them and asked for the caloric content of certain things, and they were not very helpful. I think it’s a good idea for a restaurant owner to have the nutritional information about food even if he doesn’t have 20 restaurants. Just in case someone asks.

I did do that. But she called me a liar.

I would stay calm and say, I assure you I would never lie to my customers. They are very important to me. And if you have some food item in mind you’d like nutritional information about I’ll try to find it out for you and get back to you as soon as possible.

Yelp’s business model has changed a lot over the years. It started with a pay-per-call system, then launched a pay-per-visit program, which charged businesses every time someone visited their Yelp pages. And then finally Yelp settled on a model that gives businesses the ability to place sponsored search results. How do you think this model has worked for Yelp from the point of view that while it has generated profits it has arguably limited Yelp’s growth potential?

Well, business models constantly change. Look at Facebook. You now need Facebook Messenger to read your messages. So I think it’s normal for businesses to constantly be progressing. When a business stays stagnant, that’s when it fails. As how Yelp should balance its reviews-based structure with an advertising model, that’s a very complicated issue of business strategy. I can’t really give you an answer. But at the end of the day, the more Yelp users there are—the more active people who write reviews and read reviews—the more businesses are going to start counting on them for their own business. So it’s really a win-win situation.

How do you see Yelp changing over the next five years?

Right now everything is very good. However, so many people on the business side do not like Yelp because they get very upset about negative reviews.

And some of these reviews are bogus—they’re inserted by the competition to a business.

Sure. So I think the best thing Yelp can do in the future is to make sure that the reviews are authentic and to work with businesses just as accommodatingly as they work with users.

Questions to Consider for Review?

1) One of Yelp’s biggest issues that has not yet been resolved is that:

a) Many reviews are posted by restaurant owners but do not appear on the listing due to Yelp’s “secret formula” metrics.

b) Many reviews are posted by the competition that are fake only to drive down their rivals’ total review scores.

c) Yelp is not as popular as Google

d) Advertising on Yelp does not bring in proven results.

Answer= B

2) What should a business owner do to improve their score on Yelp?

a) Subtly encourage more reviews from positive fans by posting their Yelp pages on their web site

b) Contact a bad reviewer, apologize and offer to make it up to them

c) Make sure that customer service and food are excellent in the first place

d)  All of the above

Answer= D

3) Who is not allowed to be a member of the Yelp Elite ?

a) Anyone that has posted negative things about yelp in online forums

b) Anyone who is not a US citizen

c) A local business owner

d) Anyone who earns less than $100,000 per year

Answer= C

Best Quotations from Readings in November

“If markets are volatile, turn off your damn machine, pick up the phone, and talk to companies you’re invested in.” Ron Baron (billionaire investor, NYC)

“I always advise people never to give advice. ” .P.G. Wodehouse (English humorist)

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” Steve Martin

“It’s not how you start the race, it’s how you finish it.” Steve Collis, president and CEO of Amerisourcebergen

“Never stop learning. Whether you’re an entry-level employee or a CEO, you don’t know it all. Admitting this is not a sign of weakness. The strongest leaders are those who are lifelong students.”  Indra Nooyi. Chairman and CEO of Pepsico

“People can be bought with their pockets, and they can be stimulated with their brains. But only if you win their hearts will they give you their fullest efforts driven by their passions.” Andrew Liveris, President and CEO of DOW Chemical

“Good leaders put their teams first and create an environment where employees feel empowered to share ideas and feedback.” Michael F Mahoney, President and CEO of Boston Scientific ”

“..I love to run. I like to run long distances. And part of it for me is sort of the joy of feeling the pain and the grit and knowing you have to dig deep. And I think a lot of times making business decision is like being a marathoner. In other words, you know what the finish line is that you really want to get to but, along the way, it’s not always pure joy. There are really hard moments. But if you keep your eye on the prize, it’s part of what drives you to get there.” Executive Vice President—CVS Caremark Corporation

“Be clear what matters most. And what matters most is your family. There are tradeoffs that you will make, but remember, at the end of the day that is probably the most important group of people in your lives, and that has been true for me from day one.Do something that you love. We spend a lot of time at work. I’ve probably spent 150 hours over the last couple of weeks. And so you have to find something that you love and I think you need to do it with people who you really enjoy. I get tremendous satisfaction from the team—the joy of collaboration from figuring things out together. And so I think teams and the people that you work with are incredibly important.

My advice to young people is if you find yourself in a company where you’re being asked to do something that you don’t think is right or you’re feeling uncomfortable about the leadership and the direction of the company, run, do not walk, for the doors.” Meg Whitman, CEO of HP

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

My father told me to find something you enjoy doing, work hard at it and develop a reputation in the field, and then, if you want to start something on your own, go ahead. If you enjoy your work, then it is not work. This goes against current conventional wisdom, which encourages flitting from job to job.

What is the best advice that you like to give?

“Get on with it!” Or my motto, “persistence and speed.”    Martin Sorrell CEO—WPP Group

Never protect the past. If you never protect the past, I think … you will be willing to never love [it] so much [that] you wont let it go, either. Never define yourself as a product and, in fact, I would augment it; never define yourself by your competition, either. If you live and define yourself by your product or competition, you will loose sight of who your customer is. Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM

“If you don’t like the people or the products or services you work with, don’t stay! You will only be successful if you are passionate about what you are doing.” Susan Cameron, President and CEO, Reynolds American

Great Advice from Tony Robbins

Fortune Magazine

November 17, 2014

Article written by Brian O’Keefe

This is a small excerpt from a longer article taken from Fortune Magazine. It will not go in my book and is only displayed here for educational purposes and is considered legal under fair use. Copyright 2014 Fortune Magazine.

How to give a Presentation

1) Do your homework.

“My first thing in preparing for a presentation”, says Robbins, “is you’ve got to know your audience and what their deepest needs are, their deepest desires, and their deepest concerns. That’s more important than anything else. You have to carve your message and really make sure that it’s going to hit the mark for who you’re speaking with. So I usually do  quite a bit of homework in advance, and I have a team of people who also do homework. You can’t add value until you know their needs.”

2) Respect your audience

“It’s not enough just to know your audience. You’ve got to honestly respect them too. You can’t influence someone you’re judging. So when I sit down and do the slides, I think, “Who’s in this audience? What do I respect about them? That gives me a connection with them that I-and they-can feel.”

3) Go Deep Quickly

“The next question is to ask, “How am I going to engage them from the very beginning-to quickly get to what matters to them? And to engage other people, you’ve got to be engaged. One way to engage is with shock. Or entertainment. But I think. “Let’s engage with the truth. Let’s go for what’s real and raw.”

4) Know your outcome

“You need an outline of what you want to do, but the key is to know your outcome. I pick outcomes that I’m passionate about. If you’re not passionate about something, no one else is going to be, and you’re wasting your time.”

5) Embrace Spontaneity

“Some people clearly need a sequence in their presentation to be able to function, and I understand that. But you also have to be able to flex so that you can be real and in the moment. People are starving for spontaneity. Everybody’s sick of watching somebody do a PowerPoint. I mean, it’s just absurd.”

How to Up-sell to Every Customer and Make Ordering Easier

Proper training of employees and customers are both very important for maximum efficiency and ease of use. In order to reduce the amount of mistakes made by customers and cashiers during the food ordering process, make sure to utilize these 12 steps:

1) Always repeat the customers’ orders verbatim, in a slow and clear voice. Proper and repeated training of cashiers to always repeat orders regardless of how long the line is goes a long way to reduce error. Yes, the customers are hungry, and yes of course they want to order and receive their food as fast as possible. But customers will also be very upset and even possibly give bad reviews on Yelp when we mess up their order. It’s always better to spend an additional moment in the beginning to make sure orders are 100% correct before processing them through the POS (a Point of Sale system is referred to as simply “POS” in industry jargon) and printing out the receipt for the line cooks.

2) Create a simple numbers system to track each item that corresponds to the menu board. You should not have over 20 items if you are in the fast-casual category. There may well be over 500 total  items in restaurants like Cheesecake Factory, however that system is completely different from the fast-casual concept.

In sit-down restaurants people take their time to order, and orders routinely arrive up to 20 or 30 minutes after being seated. In our business, customers will want to kill you if they have to wait 20 or 30 minutes. Each minute counts! Reduce the menu to the very best 20 or less items. Number them in a proper sequence, bundle the sides together and the rest in categories to make it easier for customers to know what they’re getting. For example the chicken can have its own category, meats a different category, and vegan dishes their own section marked by the color green, etc.

3)  Use lots of pictures on the menu; people are visual creatures and remember better when photos are involved in every stage of the process. Hire a professional photographer and editor. Taking your time and doing your homework early will go a long way later and produce dramatic results and better sales!

4)  Use a great POS system that has clear, large order buttons that are programmed in sequence with the order numbers in your food menu or catering menu catalogue. There are various models out there made by different companies. You have to use some trial and error to help determine which operating system is best for you, your employees, and your organization. Get feedback from everyone and ask the company for a free trial.

5) Make sure that the menu board you use is lit and as large as possible with legible font. If you don’t have enough room for a back-lit menu board, create one with lights pointed towards it from an angle.

6) Use effective “Marketing and Upsell”  strategies for each customer according to their order and in a case by case basis. Make up selling easy for the cashiers by providing a simple and easy to use “cheat sheet”. I have created beautiful and easy to use cheat sheets on both sides of the POS system, one for cashiers to remember the top 3 bestselling catering menu items and one for customers to help them order. It’s a constant reminder to customers that they can get a better deal if they spend a little more and works without being overly pushy.

7) Clear and easy to understand paper menus that have only a few colors and a solid background (not too many shades and not different types of backgrounds ). Many businesses opt to make these extremely cheap and small. If you do your homework, you should be able to find a professional printing manufacturer that can create high quality prints at a very reasonable price. It’s not wise to be cheap on something as important as the menu. This is the one piece of paper that will relate to hundreds, maybe thousands of customer about your restaurant.

My advice is make it as nice as possible. I spent about 4 years creating and fine-tuning Zankou Chicken’s catering menu, modifying it once a year. It initially took 18 months just to create from scratch. Being creative and coming up with new designs and menu ideas is extremely difficult. This is why it makes me angry when others choose the fast route and simply cheat and copy what we do. It’s so much easier to steal other people’s ideas than to come up with your own and work hard.

We are in the process now of completely re-doing the regular menu, since we have not updated the photos on there for some years now. My goal for that is to create a menu that not only makes people hungry, but that it also continually educates people as to what we’re all about. I want to make this iteration more about the adventure of wonderful Mediterranean food and the people that bring it to you at Zankou. The newer menu will be copyright 2016 Zankou Chicken, Inc so this time I want to make sure I make it very difficult to copy.

8) Reduce the amount of menu customization that’s allowed. At Zankou, in order to appease our wonderful customers’ diverse pallet, we allow for side order variations based on their tastes and preferences in the plates. However we don’t allow customizations on every conceivable item. For example you can’t have a wrap that has both beef and chicken shawerma in the same wrap. Even though this is being requested a few times, it would throw the chefs off. The wrap itself would probably not taste as good because the beef usually tastes great with tahini sauce and the chicken tastes great with garlic sauce, and mixing these sauces would be too much.

Also, they are marinated a bit differently. Throwing in all these different meats and sauces in the same wrap might make it messy and soggy by the time the customer gets home. Reducing the amount of customization makes errors in ordering less likely to happen.

9) Use people’s names instead of numbers. We now use people’s names when taking orders, especially phone orders. Yelling out numbers during the busy lunch hour is not only obnoxious but may make the customer feel as though they are just a number to us, not an actual person we care about.

Every customer is unique and we care about all of them. Use their names to call out orders. Not only will this make them feel special, as they truly are, but reduce the amount of times people mistakenly take someone else’s plate only to go home and discover that’s not what they actually ordered.

10) Use technology to help along the ordering process. This can be in the form of online orders (which we are in the process of starting soon hopefully). You can also use POS systems placed strategically off to one side where it won’t bother customers. In the future we will be seeing more iPads placed around the ordering area facing customers so they can easily fill in their orders themselves.

11) Use a downloadable order form. In 2014 I created a wonderfully easy to use order form. It can be downloaded from our web site, http://www.zankouchicken.com.

This order form has all of our food on one simple form, both the regular menu as well as the catering menu. Customers can download the form, fill it out, and fax it to us. Not only does this reduce error but it also helps reduce the amount of time our cashiers spend on the phone deciphering orders and receiving numerous calls. A win-win for both sides.

12) Allow cashiers to “hand-write” description AFTER a customer changes an order.

Often times a customer will place an order, only to remember they forgot some addition or customization to what they ordered. They may also opt to add something tot heir order.

Allow employees to physically go back into the kitchen or turn around and grab the receipt and write the changes down to that receipt right away. 

Just remember this, in the restaurant industry whatever is not written down is easily forgotten, and that is how many mistakes are made.

Questions to Consider for Review

1) Why should cashiers repeat orders?

a) To make sure the customer has ordered the right thing

b) To increase profits

c) To make sure the cooks serve the orders faster

d) To make sure the food is hot and delicious

Answer= A

2) What does the acronym POS system stand for ?

a) Piece Of Software

b) Point of Sale

c) Print of Sale

d) Part of System

Answer = B

3) Why is it better to use people’s names rather than numbers to call out orders?

a) They are much likely to come faster and speed up the process

b) Sometimes they forget their own names

c) It makes them feel like human beings and gives them the message that the business actually cares about them

d) It helps cashiers not mess up their order

Sample Work-For-Hire Agreement

Before hiring anyone to make videos, do photography, or make any type of art for your organization wether it be real, physical art or computer-generated files, be sure to have that individual or company sign what’s called a “work-for-hire” agreement.

This form just means they are hired to produce art and/or photography for your organization in exchange for a one time fee. All rights and copyright will belong to you and your organization after payment is made, and this will last forever. So long as you obtain trademarks and copyrights registered with an attorney, the art and photography will be yours to use in any type of promotion or marketing you deem necessary. If you do not obtain this release form, preferably signed by the artist and/ or photographer or videographer before the work is done,  it may prove to be difficult to do so later.

I have one horror story of a photographer demanding $50,000 in order to release the rights. Under the law, just because you pay a photographer money doesn’t mean you own their photography. As artists they have the right to your pictures, to use as they want, on their own web site and promotional materials. They can even make prints and sell it, unless you have them sign this form. Most people don’t realize that, and later find their wedding pictures all over the internet. So be careful, do your homework, and make sure you have this form signed, and give a signed copy to your attorney.

Here is a sample work for hire agreement:

Work-for-hire Agreement

Release for Zankou’s Catering Menu photography

This is an agreement between _____________________ and Zankou Chicken, Inc.

This Agreement covers the preparation and submission of ideas and materials by

__________________ for the production of restaurant menu photography in

exchange for $_______________________ upon satisfactory completion. This work is considered work for hire under the copyright law taking effect January 1, 1978. All concepts, ideas, sketches, art-work, electronic files, photographs, and other materials related to it will become the property of Zankou Chicken for all perpetuity without further compensation. Zankou Chicken will use the photography in physical menus, online, and in all other promotional and marketing materials as is deemed necessary.

To the extent that any of the materials prepared by ________________________

are not, by operation of law, a work-for-hire in accordance with the terms of this Agreement, ________________________ hereby assigns to Zankou Chicken all right, title and interest in and to any copyright, and Zankou Chciken shall have the right to obtain and hold in its own name any copyrights, registrations, and other proprietary rights which may be available.

Any proprietary information, trade secrets and working relationships between ________________________ and Zankou Chicken and its clients must be considered strictly confidential and may not be disclosed to any third party, either directly or indirectly.

Please indicate acceptance of the terms set forth above by counter-signing a copy of this Agreement. It is necessary for us to have a copy signed before we can authorize you to proceed with this project. Thank You

Contracted by ____________________________ Agreed to by ___________________

Name:__________________________________ Name: _________________________

Title with Zankou Chicken ________________________________________________

On this ______________day of ____________________________

Risk Management: What to do When Risky Business Gets Downright Dangerous

Restaurant owners are legally required to buy comprehensive general liability insurance as well as workers’ compensation insurance, property insurance, and in certain cases automobile insurance. To prepare for business-related calamities, many entrepreneurs work with risk management companies to insure against a host of issues ranging from faulty construction and workers’ compensation to an array of harassment issues in the workplace. Many companies now offer bonuses and incentives to employees based on the number of “safe days” spent at the workplace that go on without any injury. The range of tools for employers to control risk cost ranges from positive reinforcement initiatives like bonuses and rewards to punitive measures against those that continue to break safety rules. 

Dennis Healy, a risk management consultant with BBSI, also known as Barrett Business Services, has spent more than two decades dealing with some of the toughest and most complex insurance problems. Based in Ontario, California, BBSI provides a range of business solutions to more than 3,000 companies, and it’s employees such as Healy who are the company’s top troubleshooters. A former Los Angeles Police Department officer who worked on security and insurance issues at the Los Angeles Daily News, Healy answered a wide array of questions about the growing field of risk management and its importance for small business. Excerpts:

What is risk management? 

There are four basic principles of risk management.

1) The first is identifying any hazards within the workplace.

2) Number two, analyzing those hazards to determine whether they can be engineered out or if they happen to be necessary evils that can safely—and legally—be worked around.

3) The third principle is to control potential hazards through proper safety programs.

4) And finally, financing risk insurance policies.

Does risk management only cover workers compensation or other issues as well? What if a deal falls through before a restaurant is open? Does risk management cover such scenarios?

Workers comp gets the most play in California because it’s a big cost center for employers. But risk management deals with all kinds of other risks and unforeseen events, whether they’re related to liability, property, automotive, mergers and acquisitions, construction, business interruption, extra expenses, earthquakes, reputation, cyber—the list goes on and on. You can insure against defects in workmanship, defects in construction. If you have a loss as a result of such negligence, you can insure against that. Anywhere there’s risk there’s the ability to affect that risk. And everything that’s a risk to a business is pretty much included in that.

Let’s say an entrepreneur is constructing a building for a restaurant. Can he buy risk insurance against something he neglects to do and is legally required to, such as, say, failure to follow city building codes?

No. You cannot insure against anything illegal. It’s illegal to insure an illegal act. However, you can have defense costs insured. Let’s take the example of what we call employment practices liability insurance. That’s the stuff that covers you against sexual harassment, wrongful termination, age discrimination, racial discrimination, etc.—what we call touchy feely things. We can’t insure a judgment against you. If it’s alleged that you sexually harassed somebody and you go to trial and you lose, you must pay the judgment—any punitive damages, any awards—are out of your pocket. You cannot insure against that. But what you can insure is all the legal defense costs and out of courts settlements.

A lot of small business owners sign contracts and clauses with their employees. What’s the wisdom of having a mediation clause in a contract—or some other kind of safeguard that protects employers from potential “class-action” types of lawsuits?

What it boils down to really is that workplace disputes cost a great deal of time and money for a business. They’re expensive to litigate and deal with. Arbitration is most often faster and cheaper. The other thing is that jury awards are very unpredictable. You don’t know what a jury is going to give you—and more often than not juries do not decide in favor of employers. If you look at the jury make-up today, they’re mostly middle class working-type people who have a very sensitive spot for employees.

The employer is still perceived today as the “big bad guy” in the equation. And so a lot of time jury awards are totally “out of whack”. Arbitration, on the other hand, gives an opportunity for the employee and the employer to come together for a mutual resolution of the dispute. So, once you extract the litigation process from the equation and go to mediation—I’ve been to several mediations in my career—the process really becomes a negotiation, a discussion rather than a confrontational situation.

What’s your general advice for the small business owner in helping keep costs down in the area of workers compensation, including injuries and other risks?

First of all, workers compensation insurance is driven by what’s called “loss sensitive.” It’s really no different than your automotive policy—if you don’t get tickets and don’t get into accidents you pay one rate. If you get lots of tickets and get into lots of accidents you pay a much higher rate. So what we refer to as “frequency” in the insurance business—or the number of injuries—really starts with keeping your injury count down. Reducing the number of injuries in the workplace ultimately will keep your costs down because without injuries you don’t incur workers comp costs.

Underwriters looks at an account by what they believe will be the losses for that particular account. They try to project, to the best of their ability, what kind of losses they foresee, based on the type of industry, the number of employees and several other criteria. So the best thing you can do to keep such costs down is to reduce your exposure by eliminating or keeping your number of workplace injuries to a minimum.

How do you feel the field of workers comp has changed in the past five years?

When we talk about workers comp we really have to talk about California’s workers comp because there are different statutes for different states and my comments are limited to the state of California. The state of California is a Democratic state driven by labor. Organized labor really drives the politics in the state of California. If you look at the last five years you’ll see workers’ benefits continue to increase for the injured worker. This dramatic change has been seen through the increase of benefits. Employers have tried on several occasions to put forth legislation to reduce workers comp costs by ways of Senate Bill 899 and Senate Bill 866. But really, what happens is that the applicants’ attorneys just have to figure out a way to get around the system.

Workers comp is what is known as a “no-fault system“. There’s what’s called “exclusive remedy” within workers comp. That means that the only remedy for an injured worker is through workers compensation insurance, provided the employer has workers compensation. So that continues to become a breeding ground for injuries because all you have to do is establish 1% causation by the employer and the employer then picks up the whole cost. So in this liberal environment we’re seeing a spike in claims and a spike in compensation over the last five years.

Where do you think we’re going to be five years from now?

I think it’s got to level off. The cost of workers compensation can’t continue to grow with the double-digit increases that we’ve seen over the last five years. Otherwise it’s simply going to price employers out of the market. If you have a company—let’s say you’re not Zankou Chicken and you’re building widgets—you don’t have to be in California. You can do that business in another state. In fact we’ve seen an exodus of businesses from California as a direct result of high workers comp premiums. It’s just too darn expensive. Some employers pay up to 30% of their net revenue on workers comp insurance premiums. That’s just ridiculous. And so, I think there’s got to be a slowdown to it. There’s got to be legislation—employers have to get involved on the legislative and political level to put pressure on lawmakers to turn the system around because the system is broken.

What about Obamacare—the Affordable Care Act? After the Republican’s midterm victory in November 2014, Obamacare might or might not get repealed. But how should employers prepare for Obamacare if it doesn’t get repealed?

That’s not my expertise, but Obamacare is becoming its own world. Like workers comp, there are people developing expertise just in Obamacare. Based on my experience and what I’ve seen so far, I think it’s still extremely unpredictable. We have yet to determine whether it’s going to work or not. There has been no underwriting of Obamacare. People are just taking a guess and nobody knows what the net effect is going to be. Nobody knows who’s going to sign up and who’s not going to sign up. There’s still a cost—it’s not free healthcare, it’s not national healthcare. It’s basically creating a scenario in which people have access to healthcare based on their level of income.

But in the world of benefits, there’s such a thing as “adverse selection.” To understand what it is, consider that the whole purpose of insurance is to spread risk out over a large pool of people. That is, some people are healthy, some people are sick. Generally, you have more healthy people than sick people—and that’s how insurance works: Healthy people help pay for the sick people.

Adverse selection is when you have more sick people than healthy people. Who would sign up for Obamacare and pay those kind of premiums if they’re healthy? You’re not getting 18- to 20-year-olds or 25- to 30-year-olds signing up for Obamacare. That’s the age bracket that helps offset the costs of insuring people who are 50, 60 or 70 years old. So we’re going to have extreme adverse selection. I believe Obamacare is going to lose money. And then it’s going to be a question of whether they want to tax it or whether they want to put it on the backs of employers, whether they want to create rates that probably won’t be affordable to the average person. So, I just don’t see it working in the long run.

What’s your opinion of the posters some employers put at their businesses—such as posters in restaurant kitchens that tell workers how to prevent injuries? Or posters that point out certain laws—for example, laws regarding fraudulent workers comp claims, which carry prison sentences and fines. Do you think it’s helpful to warn employees about such issues?

Posters are tools in a toolbox. Posters alone are not going to solve a problem. But they’re part of a bigger picture. Everything we can do to bring awareness to this issue is good. But I should point out that we don’t have a lot of fraud in workers comp. Fraud is simply defined as claiming something happened when it never happened. That’s not our big issue. We don’t get a lot of people coming in saying, “This happened…”—when it didn’t happen.

Fraud often occurs more often with doctors, physicians and lawyers who are part of litigation. That’s where we really find fraud. What we see with employees are issues of abuse. Abuse of a very liberal system. For example, an employee comes in and says, “I hurt my arm today.”

And the employee goes to the doctor and it turns out that the arm is hurt. Then, all of a sudden, the attorney adds to the diagnosis the employee’s shoulder, the neck, the back—all these other body parts—and sexual dysfunction, gastrointestinal disorder, sleep disorder. Because the attorney is trying to drive up the permanent disability rate. And that’s pure abuse. And if you notice, those are all subjective complaints, not objective complaints.

What I mean by that is if you take an X-ray of my arm, yes, it’s broken. There’s no doubt about it. But doctor’s can’t measure pain—there’s no test for pain. And there’s no test for these other things, these subjective injuries. If somebody says they have sexual dysfunction, they have sexual dysfunction. If somebody says they have sleeplessness, they have sleeplessness. There’s no way to disprove such allegations, and the employers end up buying them. So, there’s a little bit of fraud. But there’s a lot of abuse. And each one of the measures such as posters in the workplace goes into helping us at least create an environment within a given workplace that makes people aware. Maybe it changes one or two people’s minds. But again, a 65-mile per hour speed limit doesn’t make everybody slow down. People still do 70. But the speed limit does create an awareness.

Often, when employees get into trouble or are given job-related warnings that make them feel like they’re about to get fired, all of a sudden the employer is faced with injury claims. The employer has to pay higher workers’ comp premiums—and insurance companies also suffer because they have to pay these ridiculous claims. How do we deal with such problems?

The biggest issue that we have today in workers comp is what’s called “post-termination stress claims.” These happen after the employee has left the employer and the employee turns around and rewrites the book—the facts about what happened over a period of time. And the employer has no defense—because that employee is already gone. Post-termination stress claims—post-termination claims of any kind—are very difficult claims to deal with, whether they’re regarding cumulative trauma or cumulative stress, whether it’s, “I-hurt-my-back-doing-something-three-months-ago-and-nobody-knew-about it ” kind of claims. Those are the biggest challenge for employers.

The other thing is the employee holding the employer hostage during disciplinary actions. There’s no doubt we have a broken system. If I lay off an employee, the remedy for that employee is to go to the Employment Development Department and collect unemployment insurance. It pays around 300 dollars a week. If the same employee can show an injury in the workplace, they get two-thirds of their average weekly wage—tax-free—medical care, transportation costs, mileage driving to and fro from the doctor’s appointment for up to two years.

So there is a big incentive for our employees to claim something related to work. And word gets out. People talk. They say, “Hey, you don’t want to go out just on unemployment. I’m sure something happened to you while you were working there. Didn’t your back hurt? Didn’t your elbow hurt?”

The big thing is how do we prevent that? And that’s what we in risk management struggle with on a daily basis. And what I’ve seen in my 25 years of doing risk management is that the issue really is cultural. And by culture, I mean the work environment, not race, religion or creed. When an employee begins to feel an us-against-you mentality, when they’re no longer treated with dignity and respect, when they feel they’re being singled out, all of a sudden they get into this mode of, I’m going to get back at you.

There is a way to deal with employees by using a progressive disciplinary program—a verbal warning followed by a written warning in an escalating manner. Nobody should be fired and be surprised that they got fired. That’s a failure of management. People who get fired as a result of for-cause terminations and are completely shocked are people who have never been told what they’re doing wrong. And those are the people who retaliate and come back at the employer. And they know that’s the easiest way to get back at an employer.

How should employees report claims? Is it better for employers to have an in-house doctor? Or is it better for employers that claims go through, say, an emergency hospital?

Up to this point we’ve talked about preventing claims, and now we’re moving on to the post-claims status. So, instead of becoming proactive we’re becoming reactive. There are some things we can do. First of all, an employer should effectively manage claims. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has very clear guidelines about what constitutes first aid and what doesn’t. In the case of a minor first aid injury, employers can absolutely handle them on their own and pay for them on their own.

The problem that employers get into with unreported claims have to do with very specific statutes about workers comp that give you a defense. But you must comply with those in a timely manner to get your claim going, or you lose your ability to defend your claim. If you don’t do that, the employee will go wherever he wants—to any doctor he wants—and you lose complete control over the situation.

Even if you’re dealing with an internal clinic, the truth of the matter is that while such clinics are good for the honest guy—the honest employee—they don’t have any effect on the guy who wants to play games. The person who’s going to play games is not going to abide by your clinic. And frankly, employers are taking a big chance when they fail to report claims by keeping things in-house. It’s a risk vs. reward situation that is driven by several factors, such as the relationship with the employee.

What’s the best way to train staff in order to reduce workplace injuries and claims?

The best training is to develop a safety culture. I can train you how to bend, how to lift something, how to use a sharp knife. But when I do training, I refer to it as the “mommy culture.” If you have a child and you see the child doing something unsafe, what do you do? You say, Stop. If you have a hot oven and you see a child walking toward the oven, you say, Stop. But for some reason, we don’t do that in the workplace. We’re all so afraid to tell somebody else that they’re not using a knife safely or not putting up a sign while mopping a wet floor. Employees are so afraid to tell one another anything because they feel it’s confrontational to do so. But you have to instill among your employees the right, the ability and the expectation to do that. A manager’s eyes can’t be everywhere. The checks have to come from within the environment. Unsafe behavior cannot be acceptable.

If an employer provides employees all the resources to guard against sexual harassment in the workplace, is the employer still liable in cases regarding sexual harassment of employees by other employees?

Where employers get into trouble is in allowing an environment of sexual harassment to exist or in failing to intervene in instances where sexual harassment exists or is alleged. Sexual harassment is very rarely a one-time deal. It’s usually a pattern, a culture. It’s best to have zero tolerance for any type of sexual harassment, and to investigate complaints aggressively to make sure you’re not creating an environment conducive to sexual harassment.

What are some of the most dramatic risk management claims you’ve dealt with in your career?

I’ll give you a couple. I had a newspaper home delivery contractor in northern California who was in a minivan early one morning along with her husband and three children. They were helping her deliver the newspapers. The children would fold the papers in the back seat and the husband and wife would throw the papers into residences from the front seats—one from the left window and one from the right.

They were going up the highway minding their own business. It was about 5:30 in the morning. And unbeknownst to them, the California Highway Patrol was paralleling a wrong-way driver on the freeway. The highway patrol was not on the freeway because they don’t go the wrong way in pursuits. They were on the side of the road, trying to get the wrong-way driver to pull over. But he wouldn’t pull over. And he hit the newspaper delivery contractor and her family head on.

He killed the mother, killed the father and critically injured all three kids, who ended up on ventilators, with severe head injuries. They were all vegetables. The gentleman who hit them had a 0.28 blood alcohol level, which is way above the legal limit [of 0.8]. He survived. They took him to the hospital and notified his next of kin, which happened to be his sister at the time. And the first thing the sister said when she came to the emergency room was, Please tell me he didn’t kill somebody this time.

Turned out the guy had three previous DUIs. He had been drinking all night. And he hit our people head on. That claim, because we were self-insured, cost the company I worked for more than $10 million in workers comp. We had a very large deductible, but we were on the hook for the two death claims and for temporary total disability for all three kids for the rest of their lives. Most of the money—the big cost—went into a trust fund for their future medical care. The kids’s next of kin—aunts and uncles—got the majority of the actual cash.

I’ll give you another incident. I had a reporter who worked at the Los Angeles Daily News. The offshore fishing season had just opened up and he was writing about it for the paper. So he chartered a boat through the Daily News out of Oxnard and went out to sea. The way it works is that you get on the boat at, say, 11 o’clock in the night, you sleep on the boat, you wake up the next morning and fish.

Somewhere in the middle of the night, the reporter got seasick. He went out and was vomiting overboard. The boat is supposed to have a deck watch at all times, especially on these amateur boats, to make sure everybody’s okay. But there was no deck watch, which we later learned. And we later learned that the people who were on the boat were all smoking marijuana and nobody was paying attention. They didn’t notice our man was overboard until the next morning.

A Coast Guard was initiated for two days. The reporter’s body was not found. The Coast Guard seized the boat and drug-tested the crew—that’s how I found out they had been smoking marijuana. The reporter had three or four kids. The paper ended up paying a death claim on him. It was $150,000. And we ended up paying temporary total disability on each of the kids until they were 18 years old. It was another multi-million-dollar claim that we had nothing to do with. It wasn’t our fault—it was the boat’s fault. We subrogated against the owner of the boat—that is, we tried to get some of our money back. But we had a $100,000 insurance policy. So we got back $100,000. But as a company it cost us millions of dollars.

What are your top three do’s and don’ts for business owners on the subject of risk management?

My top three do’s are, number one, create a safety culture. Number two, treat all employees with dignity and respect. These are all somebody’s mother, brother, sister, family, friend. I’m not saying don’t discipline them. Just treat them like you’d expect your own family member to be treated.

Number three: Be aggressive about your claims. What I mean by that is, if there’s an issue with an employee involving a legitimate injury, give that employee everything that’s coming to him. If the employee needs his job to be reassigned, reassign it. Modify the employee’s duties so he’s not impacted financially. Work with the employee. If he needs help, help him.

By the same token, if you’ve got an employee who’s playing games or is being abusive or fraudulent, then attack that employee with the same vigor and force. Go after that person aggressively, with an injury investigation. Conduct a witness investigation. Look at your cameras. Build a case.

So, if they’re legitimately hurt, give them everything you’ve got within the system. God bless them. But if they’re playing games, make it clear that you’re going to seek them out and destroy them.

Now, my top three don’ts. One: Never put production or sales above safety. Two: Don’t create unsafe conditions or fail to act if you see something unsafe. Number three: Don’t fail to report a claim because you think it’ll cost more money.

Sources:  OSHA

The following list sets forth the minimally acceptable number and type of first-aid supplies for first-aid kits required under paragraph (d)(2) of the logging standard. The contents of the first-aid kit listed should be adequate for small work sites, consisting of approximately two to three employees. When larger operations or multiple operations are being conducted at the same location, additional first-aid kits should be provided at the work site or additional quantities of supplies should be included in the first-aid kits:

1. Gauze pads (at least 4 x 4 inches).

2. Two large gauze pads (at least 8 x 10 inches).

3. Box adhesive bandages (band-aids).

4. One package gauze roller bandage at least 2 inches wide.

5. Two triangular bandages.

6. Wound cleaning agent such as sealed moistened towelettes.

7. Scissors.

8. At least one blanket.

9. Tweezers.

10. Adhesive tape.

11. Latex gloves.

12. Resuscitation equipment such as resuscitation bag, airway, or

pocket mask.

13. Two elastic wraps.

14. Splint.

15. Directions for requesting emergency assistance.

[59 FR 51672, Oct. 12, 1994; 60 FR 47022, Sept. 8, 1995]

Source: http://www.OSHA.gov

Legal Employer Responsibilities

Employer Responsibilities

Under the OSH law, employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace. This is a short summary of key employer responsibilities:

1) Provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards and comply with standards, rules and regulations issued under the OSH Act.
2)  Examine workplace conditions to make sure they conform to applicable OSHA standards.
3)  Make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment and properly maintain this equipment.
4)   Use color codes, posters, labels or signs to warn employees of potential hazards.
5)   Establish or update operating procedures and communicate them so that employees follow safety and health requirements.
6)   Employers must provide safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand.
7)   Employers with hazardous chemicals in the workplace must develop and implement a written hazard communication program and train employees on the hazards they are exposed to and proper precautions (and a copy of safety data sheets must be readily available). See the OSHA page on Hazard Communication.
8)    Provide medical examinations and training when required by OSHA standards.
Post, at a prominent location within the workplace, the OSHA poster (or the state-plan equivalent) informing employees of their rights and responsibilities.
9)   Report to the nearest OSHA office within 8 hours any fatal accident or one that results in the hospitalization of three or more employees. Call our toll-free number: 1-800-321-OSHA (6742); TTY 1-877-889-5627
Keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses. (Note: Employers with 10 or fewer employees and employers in certain low-hazard industries are exempt from this requirement.
10)   Provide employees, former employees and their representatives access to the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300). On February 1, and for three months, covered employers must post the summary of the OSHA log of injuries and illnesses (OSHA Form 300A).
Provide access to employee medical records and exposure records to employees or their authorized representatives.
Provide to the OSHA compliance officer the names of authorized employee representatives who may be asked to accompany the compliance officer during an inspection.
Don’t discriminate against employees who exercise their rights under the Act. See our “Whistleblower Protection” webpage.
Post OSHA citations at or near the work area involved. Each citation must remain posted until the violation has been corrected, or for three working days, whichever is longer. Post abatement verification documents or tags.
Correct cited violations by the deadline set in the OSHA citation and submit required abatement verification documentation.
OSHA encourages all employers to adopt an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Injury and Illness Prevention Programs, known by a variety of names, are universal interventions that can substantially reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries and alleviate the associated financial burdens on U.S. workplaces. Many states have requirements or voluntary guidelines for workplace Injury and Illness Prevention Programs.

Also, numerous employers in the United States already manage safety using Injury and Illness Prevention Programs, and we believe that all employers can and should do the same. Most successful Injury and Illness Prevention Programs are based on a common set of key elements. These include: management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification, hazard prevention and control, education and training, and program evaluation and improvement. OSHA’s Injury and Illness Prevention Programs topics page contains more information including examples of programs and systems that have reduced workplace injuries and illnesses.


Questions for Review


1) What is risk management?



Risk management is the

1) identification,

2) assessment, and

3) prioritization of risks followed by coordinated and economical application of resources to

1) minimize,

2) monitor, and

3) control the probability and/or impact of unfortunate events or to maximize the realization of opportunities.


2) If an employer gives warnings or takes disciplinary action where it was warranted against sexual harassment in the workplace, can they still be held liable?

a) Yes

b) No


Answer: B


3) If the employer himself/herself was involved with sexual harassment and was found culpable in court, who would pay the settlement?

a) The employer would not have to pay the settlement out of pocket but the insurance company, if sexual harassment was covered, would pay for the defense attorney’s costs and fees to defend the case as well as any settlement

b) If it was settled out of court the insurance company that covers sexual harassment would pay for the settlement, however if the case was taken all the way to court and the employer loses the case the employer would pay that out of pocket

c) As long as those involved were mutually interested in each other, no one would have to pay

d) As long as training, warnings and posters describing consequences were present, the employer is not responsible when sexual harassment occurs.

Answer= B


4) Under OSHA’s rules, “whistle-blowers” are:

a)  not protected; to each their own

b) are protected from any retaliation by their employer

c) not welcome to speak out when the employer has done nothing wrong

d) liable for their own mistakes


Source:  Wikipedia